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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69300 Find in a Library
Title: POTENTIAL OF CHILDREN AS EYEWITNESSES - A COMPARISON OF CHILDREN AND ADULTS ON EYEWITNESS TASKS
Journal: LAW AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR  Volume:3  Issue:4  Dated:(1979)  Pages:295-306
Author(s): B V MARIN; D L HOLMES; M GUTH; P KOVAC
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 12
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS STUDY COMPARED CHILDREN AND ADULTS ON AN EYEWITNESS TASK TO ASSESS THE CREDIBILITY AND COMPETENCY OF CHILDREN AS EYEWITNESSES.
Abstract: SPECIFICALLY, THE STUDY ADDRESSED THREE QUESTIONS OF FUNDAMENTAL IMPORTANCE IN USING CHILDREN AS EYEWITNESSES: ARE CHILDREN LESS ABLE THAN ADULTS TO RECALL EVENTS; ARE CHILDREN MORE SUSCEPTIBLE THAN ADULTS TO LEADING OR SUGGESTIVE QUESTIONS; AND ARE THERE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CHILDREN AND ADULTS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHEN QUESTIONING THE CHILD EYEWITNESS. A TOTAL OF 96 SUBJECTS AGED 5 TO 25 YEARS WERE INDIVIDUALLY TESTED. EACH SUBJECT WAS PUT IN A ROOM WITH THE EXPERIMENTER AND AN ASSISTANT. A FEW MINUTES LATER A CONFEDERATE WOULD ENTER THE ROOM AND INTERRUPT THE TESTING. LATER EACH SUBJECT WAS ASKED TO TELL WHAT HAD HAPPENED, TO ANSWER OBJECTIVE QUESTIONS (INCLUDING LEADING QUESTIONS), AND TO IDENTIFY THE CONFEDERATE FROM SIX PHOTOGRAPHS. AS PREDICTED, ALTHOUGH OLDER SUBJECTS WERE ABLE TO RECALL MORE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED YOUNGER SUBJECTS DID NOT DIFFER FROM ADULTS ON ANSWERING THE YES/NO QUESTIONS, IDENTIFYING THE PHOTOGRAPH, OR BEING MISLED BY THE LEADING QUESTION. THE MAJOR FINDING THEREFORE WAS THAT, FOLLOWING A SIMULATED EYEWITNESS INCIDENT, CHILDREN WERE AS CAPABLE AS ADULTS IN ANSWERING DIRECT QUESTIONS ABOUT THE INCIDENT AND IDENTIFYING THE PERSON THEY HAD SEEN FROM PHOTOGRAPHS. MOREOVER, CHILDREN WERE NOT MORE EASILY SWAYED INTO INCORRECT ANSWERS BY THE USE OF LEADING QUESTIONS THAN WERE ADULTS. THE FINDINGS THUS SUGGEST THAT CHILDREN AS YOUNG AS 5 YEARS OF AGE ARE AS COMPETENT AND CREDIBLE AS EYEWITNESSES AS ARE ADULTS WHEN RESPONDING TO DIRECT, OBJECTIVE QUESTIONS. TABULAR DATA, REFERENCES NOTE, 2 FOOTNOTES AND 25 REFERENCES ARE INCLUDED, AND AN APPENDIX LISTS TEST QUESTIONS.
Index Term(s): Witnesses
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=69300

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